NASHVILLE, TN — It took Barbara G. Key only a little while of foster parenting Elijah and Jeremiah to decide to permanently adopt them. When they first arrived at ages 4 and 18 months, she could tell they had come from a very tough situation.

“They were non-verbal and would hide up under things. I’d find them under the bed clutching each other. They tried to eat dog food from the dog bowl. It was obvious they did not come from a pleasant experience. Now, they are happy, talking, hugging me, touching me,” Key said. 

Elijah went from calling her “Ms. Key” to “Nonna,” to “Mama.” Jeremiah calls from the next room to ask if he can have a peanut butter cracker. 

“When they first came, adoption was nowhere in my head. But, at some point, there’s a connection.”  

Barbara Key is an example of the kind of healing children can get when they have a caring adult in their lives. Ms. Key is a foster parent recruited through the Monroe Harding agency. The agency, which began in 1893 as an orphanage, now works to place children in foster homes, advocate for them and support both the foster parent and the children. 

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